With divorce being so common these days, many divorces will inevitably involve children. Parents are often preoccupied with their own problems during the divorce process, but need to remember that whatever their differences, the needs of the children are paramount.
Divorce is going to be stressful for the children, and unless the lead up has been characterized by high levels of anger and conflict, the children will most likely prefer that the family stays intact. There can be self-blame as children can misinterpret divorce as something they are partly responsible for, and in general can feel confused and anxious about the threat to their secure foundations. The transition through divorce can involve strained relationships, reduced contact with one parent, moving home, financial hardship and high levels of conflict. Any of these reasons can lead to increased stress in a child. The length and difficulty of the transition period is entirely up to the parents. The better they can manage the stress and conflict levels, the better the adjustment for the kids.
Most children are resilient enough to make the adjustment without developing emotional or behavioural problems, but there are things the parents can do ease the adjustment to the divorce and new family structure:
If the subject matter in this article resonates with you, then counselling might be a good option to help you to move forward. I offer a free 20-minute consultation so we can explore how I might be able to help you.
Many of my clients had a difficult childhood, with problems ranging across abuse, neglect, bullying, a parent with alcoholism or mental health issues, absent parents, childhood trauma, illness, violence in the home, poverty or any other kind of serious problem you can think of that could befall a child. Often these stresses were chronic, meaning they repeated over time, rather than being one-off events.
We tend to think that children are resilient and can bounce back from misfortunes, but the people I see in therapy know that it took much more out of them, and they certainly didn’t just rebound once circumstances improved. In therapy they often see these early adversities as the foundation for later difficulties they have experienced in life, and fear they will be ‘stuck’ forever. This need not, however, be the case.
The future has yet to be written and we can always write a better story about ourselves. What I mean by this is we can refuse to accept the way we were defined when we were younger. Many of us grew up believing things that other people said about us, such as ‘I am stupid’, ‘I am a burden to my family’, or ‘I will never amount to anything in life’. As an adult, however, you can develop some inner defiance and decide to refuse to believe this nonsense; you are not the sum total of these narratives, and you can begin to re-write them now you are old enough to know better.
Overcoming the adversities of your childhood is an ongoing process, but like most things, you become better at it the more you practice, and the less you allow yourself to become overwhelmed by the ‘fight or flight’ feelings and anxiety of stepping outside your comfort zone of damage. The more resilient and toughened you become, the more you can seek out new challenges for success, and so it becomes a cycle of recovery. In fact, you can become more successful than others around you BECAUSE of your early adversity and the work you put into becoming greater than the sum of those early parts.
So, what can we all learn about becoming more resilient in the face of life’s difficulties?
If the subject matter in this article resonates with you, then counselling might be a good option to help you to move forward. I offer a free 20-minute consultation so we can explore how I might be able to help you. Contact me to set up your first free appointment.